Memo to Jeff Lurie and Joe Banner: Man up


The Eagles' management are people who like to have the best of both worlds. Taxpayers like you and me doled out at least $181 million to pay for Lincoln Financial Field -- that would be at least $85 million from the state of Pennsylvania and $96.2 million from the city of Philadelphia but the Birds get to run the joint like it was their own private country club.

Taker the issue of free speech. Considering that taxpayers footed roughly one-third of the bill for the Linc, you'd think that we'd get at least get to speak our minds down there 33.3 percent of the time. But the Eagles policy continues to be just like that soup guy, "no speech for you!" The latest outrage?

A fan from Delaware County said yesterday she was barred from Lincoln Financial Field before Sunday's Eagles game until she agreed to turn inside out a T-shirt critical of quarterback Michael Vick.

Kori Martin, 32, of Broomall, said she was wearing a T-shirt bearing the words "Losers fight pitbulls" on the front, with Vick's name and No. 7 crossed out. On the back, she said, were the words "You don't deserve a second chance."

Martin said she was stopped at the gate by security guards who said that she could not wear the shirt because it was offensive to players and that the policy came from top management.

Except that when confronted about their policy, they denied it:

Last night, Pamela Browner Crawley, the team's senior vice president of public affairs, said she knew of no specific policy banning such shirts.

Actually, I think Eagles' owner Jeff Lurie, team president Joe Banner, and the rest of the crew down there are great Americans, because they love to exercise their rights under the U.S. Constitution. They have the right to hire and fire whomever the want, so they proudly fire a longtime employee for criticizing the team for a player move on his Facebook page. They have the right (although I find it a tad dubious, myself) to control what people say or wear at their high-priced stadium, so they harass a long-time season ticket holder for a fair innocuous and not obscene protest shirt. And of course, they love exercising their own right of free speech, calling a radio station and getting a critical host suspended for a couple of days, or even reportedly calling newspaper editors when they think other Philly teams are getting more or better coverage.

They have the right to do all these things -- but exercising those rights doesn't mean that they're not gutless cowards, afraid to brook even mundane, harmless criticism. If the management of the Eagles wants to be respected in this town, and not just feared, they'll learn that tolerating a little dissent and some give-and-take is a key part of why our adopted hometown is called the Cradle of Liberty -- and not simply the Cradle.

In other words, Jeff and Joe, it's time to man up.